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Jefferson, Freedom end Perkiomen Valley’s season in PIAA-6A opener

EASTON >> The Freedom girls basketball team was in the zone.

That included knowing how to break one, too.

The Patriots rode the wave from winning the District 11 Class 6A championship last week into the first round of the PIAA Championships Friday night and had their way with Perkiomen Valley, 59-42, at Easton Middle School.

Perkiomen Valley’s Taylor Hamm (45) pulls down a rebound against Freedom’s Jennifer Kokolus (23) during the first half Friday. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Freedom (21-7) was sharp throughout and had three players in double figures – senior Kyra Jefferson led the way with 17 points while sophomore Jennifer Kokolus and senior Hailey Silfies each had 14. The Patriots advance to face District 1 No. 5 Abington, which beat Wilson 59-44 Friday, in the second round on Tuesday, March 13.

“In the biggest stage, that was one of our best games of the year so I’m just excited to see what we do as we move forward,” Freedom coach Dean Reiman said.

Perkiomen Valley was led, as it has been so many times before, by senior forwards Megan Jonassen and Taylor Hamm, who scored 12 and 10, respectively.

Perkiomen Valley’s Gabby Marinacci (22) calls out a play against Freedom. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

The Vikings, which finished 10th in District 1 and were Pioneer Athletic Conference finalists, concluded the season at 21-9.

Perkiomen Valley head coach John Strawoet was straight to the point assessing his team’s season-ending defeat.

“We got schooled,” he said. “We got schooled on how to move the basketball. They move the basketball really, really well and when we got behind we had to play man (defense). Sure, we had the advantage inside, but we couldn’t match their speed and quickness.”

Indeed, Freedom and primarily Kokolus superbly found pockets of space in the PV zone, while freshman guards Corinn Gill (8 points) and Brenna Ortwein played above their years.

Perkiomen Valley’s Megan Jonassen, right, blocks the drive attempt of Freedom’s Hailey Silfies (20) as PV’s Taylor Hamm helps during a PIAA 6A first round game Friday in Easton. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

“We did really well when they zoned us. We didn’t settle for outside shots, we got into the paint and got high-percentage shots and I think that really pulled them out of the zone and made them play us man, which we felt coming in would give us an advantage 1-through-5 with our speed and athleticism,” Reiman said.

The Vikings stayed within striking distance throughout the first half – senior Megan Moore (6 points) hit a pair of 3-pointers – but Freedom extended its lead to seven entering halftime, 33-26, on a Silfies scoop layup ahead of the buzzer.

Freedom’s Jennifer Kokolus (23) and Perkiomen Valley’s Taylor Hamm (45) battle for a rebound during a PIAA 6A first round game in Easton. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

That late run carried it all the way through the second half as Freedom put together an 8-0 run that built its lead to 46-31 on a Jefferson basket from an inbounds pass with 2:04 left in the third quarter. With Jonassen and Hamm being double- and triple-teamed and too few willing shooters on the perimeter, PV never got closer than 10 the rest of the way.

“I thought that was one of our better games, consistently for all four quarters,” Reiman said. “(The girls) had really good awareness in the second half on their two bigs (Jonassen, Hamm) with backside help and then changing some things up.

“Offensively, we were just really hard to guard in the second half.”

Along with Jonassen, Hamm and Moore, Perkiomen Valley’s outgoing senior class includes Grace Lindberger, Brynne Wacker and Alex Blomstrom. It’s a class that elevated the profile of Perk Valley girls basketball by leaps and bounds.

“We were in the PAC championships three out of the four years, in districts four out of four years, in states two out of the four years, along with a district and PAC title, and that’s a credit to these seniors,” Strawoet said. “Four years ago, when we started, we were the doormats of the PAC. And now we’re not. They should all be very, very proud of that.”

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